Cyberbullying Overview:

What is Cyberbullying?

As technology advances and evolves, more problems and issues have become evident in today’s society. Before the invention of smartphones, hand held tablets, and Facebook, bullying was an issue that required two people to be present. Bullying occurs when one person would show aggressive behavior towards another that was usually habitual and involved an imbalance in power. Someone that is labeled a bully would attack another person either verbally or physically to implement harm. Now, due to technology, bullying can occur between two people in different cities, states, and even counties. Technology creates a gateway for bullies to have access to people all around the world. It creates a new type of bullying called cyberbullying. Although one thinks cyberbullying has to involve the internet, cyberbullying can take many other forms. Not only does cyberbullying occur through the use of the internet, it can also occur through the use of any form of technology. When technology is used to harm others in a deliberate, repeated manner, it is cyberbullying. This can be done by using social networks such as Facebook and it can be done by sending text messages on a cellular phone.

Serious Side effects of Cyberbullying

Since social networks and cellular phones have become so widely used by all ages of people, cyberbullying has become a major issue. This is especially true in teenagers and children. In a newspaper article written by Christopher Magg (2007), he gives the example of how serious cyberbullying can be. In 2006, a 13 year old girl committed suicide after falling victim to cyber bullying. Megan Meier was part of the social network MySpace. She received a sweet message from what appeared to be a nice 16 year old boy. They became friends and communicated for over a month before the relationship turned sour. The nice compliments from the boy turned malicious. After weeks of bullying, Megan committed suicide due to the stress and bullying she was handling. An already depressed 13 year old dealing with a bully was not able to overcome cyberbullying.

Protection Against Cyberbullying

Although most cases of cyberbullying occur at home, some issues of bullying began at school. School can be an intimidating environment for teenagers. There are pressures of belonging to certain groups, pressures of being a good student, and pressures of being a growing teenager. These pressures can lead to bullying. Schools have strict rules about bullying at school but the issue is now involving cyberbullying, which many schools are choosing not to be involved. Schools are not sure they have legal say in what occurs off campus even though cyberbullying usually starts at school. In a middle school in New Jersey, a principal was faced with this very challenging topic. He had a female student that was being bullied by a male student through text messages. The parents of the female felt the school should take a side and punish the male student. Not sure on the laws regarding the power of the school with this issue, the principal decided to talk with the student. After talking with the student, he was informed that the student had lost his phone and someone else was sending the messages. Although this is a type of bullying, it happened off campus and the school was not allowed to interfere (Hoffman, 2010).
This is not the only situation in which a school had to take a “hands off” approach to bullying. In schools around the country, this issue is becoming more prevalent and schools are not allowed to punish students for an event occurring off campus. Experts in education believe that the U.S Senate and legislators need to give the power to the schools to punish students that are cyberbullies. Because the side effects of cyberbullying can be felt at school, they believe the schools should have polices in place to handle these types of situations. One example of a policy that schools have in place to handle bullying situations occurring off campus is to only punish the students if they have all parents’ involved consent. If the parents want to handle the situation out of school, then the school is not allowed to discipline the students. Other polices have been enacted by some states. For example, Arkansas and Idaho state legislators have passed laws allowing schools to take action against cyberbullying even if the action occurs off campus (“Cyberbullying State Laws”, 2008). As technology advances and more students enter the 21st century classroom, more students may become victims of cyberbullying. If preventative actions begin occurring now, students may be less likely to become bullied. Students will also understand the steps need to deal with a cyber-bully.

Trend or Issue?

Although cyberbullying began as a result of a trend, it has now become an issue in many young teen’s lives. Due to social networks and chat rooms, all ages of people can meet and talk with people all around the world. Cellular phones that are capable of text messaging have made it possible for people to talk without actually calling each other. This new trend of using technology to meet and interact with people has caused the serious issue of cyberbullying. Technology has transformed the lives of adolescents, including the ways they bully one another (Beale & Hall, 2007). It has allowed for bullies to remain completely anonymous but still cause havoc in others’ lives. “It is estimated that 91% of kids 12 to 15 years old and almost all teens (99%) ages 16 to 18 use the Internet” (Keith & Martin, 2005). This trend of using the internet on a daily basis, along with its availability, is providing teens more opportunities to fall victim to cyberbullying.

Evidence that Cyberbullying Is Occuring

Throughout schools across America, bullying has always been an issue. Now, through the use of technology, schools are dealing with the issue of cyberbullying. “Although few studies that have documented students’ experiences with cyberbullying exist, the one national study to date found that cyberbullying was prevalent among middle school students, with 25 percent of girls and 11 percent of boys reporting being cyberbullied at least once in a two-month period (Beale & Hall, 2007). This study proves that there is an issue in education with cyberbullying. Although schools are trying to create polices and rules on how to handle cyberbullying, they are finding it difficult to determine when school jurisdiction begins and ends. Several states have enacted laws giving the power to regulate cyberbullying to the schools (“Cyberbullying State Laws”, 2008).

Additional Statistics on Cyberbullying:
• 57% of students said that someone had said hurtful
or angry things to them online with 13% saying
it happens "quite often"
• 53%( of students admit saying mean or hurtful
things to someone online and 7% admit to doing
it "quite often"
• 35%) of students have been threatened online with
5% saying it happens "quite often"
• 42% have been bullied online with 7%, saying it
happens "quite often"
• 20% have received mean or threatening e-mails
• 58% have not told their parents or another adult
about their experiences online
(Keith & Martin, 2005)


Because cyberbullying can take place between individuals that are anywhere, school districts are having trouble finding a solution on who should or should not be punished. So what can administrators and schools do to fight cyberbullying? In the article “Cyberbullying: What School Administrators (and Parents) Can Do”, Beale and Hall (2007) offer several suggestions that may prevent cyberbullying. The first suggestion was to provide the students with education about internet safety and cyberbullying. Students should be made aware of what actions classify as cyberbullying and its consequences. The second suggestion states that the school and school boards have polices in place that address cyberbullying. Any polices regarding internet use should spell out what constitutes as cyberbullying and how the school will deal with any type of harassment through the use of the internet. The third suggestion is to create an environment that students feel comfortable talking with teachers about being bullied. This trust relationship should include all school officials, parents, and local police. It will open the door for students to talk to any person about being bullied. Because cyberbullying is becoming a major issue in education, schools need to begin incorporating education and ideas of prevention along with its regular curriculum. (Beale & Hall, 2007) Along with the knowledge the students receive, students should be able to identify and feel comfortable to stand up against the issue of cyberbullying.

Additional Suggestions for Prevention:

Tips for children:
• Never share or give out personal information, PIN numbers, phone numbers, etc.
• Tell a trusted adult.
• Do not read messages by cyber bullies,
• Do not delete messages; they can be used to take action.
• Bullying through instant messaging and chat rooms can often be blocked.
• Do not open a message from someone you don't know,
• Do not reply to the person bullying or harassing you.
Tips for parents:
• Pay attention! Know how and when your children are using the Internet.
• Become more tech savvy.
• Install blocking or filtering software.
• Encourage your child to talk to you if they are being bullied.
• Limit your child's time using the Internet.
• Develop a family online agreement including: Where kids can go online and what they can do there
How much time they can spend on the Internet? What to do if anything makes them uncomfortable? How to protect their personal information, stay safe in interactive environments and behave ethically and responsibly online.
Tips for schools:
• Develop school policies for acceptable Internet and cell phone use. Enforce them.
• Zero tolerance for bullying in any form,
• Ensure that children and young people are aware that all bullying concerns will be dealt with sensitively and effectively.
• Ensure that parents/guardians expressing bullying concerns have them taken seriously.
(Keith & Martin, 2005)

Annotated Bibliography of Cyberbullying Sources

Beale, A. V., & Hall, K. R. (2007). Cyberbullying: What school administrators (and parents) can do. The Clearing House, 81(1), 8-12. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from EBSCOhostdatabase. This article defines cyberbullying or online as a new type of bullying that involves technology of some sort. The forms of cyberbullying that are discussed in the article are email, websites, chat rooms, and instant messaging. It is important to understand the term and the forms in order to protect adolescents. Cyberbullying is becoming more evident in schools. One way to prevent cyberbullying is through understanding what it is and its consequences. School officials and parents need an understanding in order to help protect their students. The article suggests several strategies that school officials and parents can do to prevent cyberbullying. This is a peer reviewed article that has information on cyberbullying.

Campbell, M. A. (2005). Cyber bullying: An old problem in a new guise?. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counseling, 15(1), 68-76. Retrieved May 14, 2012, from JSTOR database. This is peer reviewed article that explains the definitions for cyberbullying and its consequences. Bullying has been an issue for teens and young adults. With the advances in technology, bullying has become a different issue called cyberbullying. It also explains the ways to prevent cyberbullying in schools. Cyberbullying is a new “face” to an old issue.

"Cyberbullying State Laws and Polices". (2008, October8). This website provides information about state laws that have been passed in several states. It distinguishes which states have implemented laws regarding cyberbullying and the actions schools can take against perpetrators

Hoffman, J. (2010, June 27). Online Bullies Pull Schools Into the Fray. The New York Times. This newspaper article provides an example of a cyberbullying case in a middle school. It discusses how schools have to be careful when deciding on how to approach a cyberbullying case that occurred off campus. This is a newspaper article that is not peer reviewed.

Keith, S., & Martin, M. E. (2005). Cyber-bullying: Creating a culture of respect in a cyber world. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 13(14), 224-228. Retrieved May 14, 2012, from EBSCOhost database. This article provides statistical analysis of students that have been victims of cyberbullying. It explains that cyberbullying should not be taken lightly and students should be protected against the issue. The article also provides students, parents, and schools with tips on how to protect yourself and your students from cyberbullying.

Maag, C. (2007, December 16). When the bullies turned faceless. The New York Times.This newspaper article reports an incident where cyberbullying was taken to the extreme. A 13 year old girl committed suicide after being a victim of cyberbullying. The article explains that she became involved with what appeared to be a 16 year old boy on the internet. It began as a fun relationship but turned bad when he began attacking her verbally. Feeling the pressures of him along fighting depression, the young girl decided to commit suicide to escape. This incident is a constant reminder that cyberbullying is real and can have serious effects.

Preventing cyberbullying in schools and the community. National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, 1-6. This website has a published article on it that explains cyberbullying. It provides some insight into what is cyberbullying and how it is different from other types of bullying. Cyberbullying is especially more threatening since it has provides a sense of anonymity by allowing the user to hide behind a screen name. It provides examples along with statistics on cyberbullying in young adults. The article also suggests ideas that school administrators and parents can do to prevent cyberbullying among students.

Savage, D. G. (2012, January 15). U.S. Supreme Court takes on cyber bullying. The Seattle Times. In this article, the US Senate is making a decision in a case involving comments made about a principal on a social media website by students. After numerous events of cyberbullying in the school, the US Senate is taking a look at what rights the schools have in governing actions occurring off campus. The article also explains what is cyberbullying and how it is often hard to handle in schools due to polices in place by schools. Most cyberbullying occurs off campus and schools cannot determine how they can discipline cyberbullying. If the Senate does rule in favor of the principal, there will have to be changes in the schools rules about using technology to bully.

WiredKids. (n.d.). Stop cyberbullying.educators/guide_for_schools.html.This website is a blog or opinion written by someone who has experienced cyberbullying in a school. A angry student posted vulgar and insulting things about several teachers but because the postings occurred after school hours at home, the school could not discipline the student. This website provides a lot of information on cyberbullying from the parent's perspective and individuals who have experienced cyberbullying.

Proposal Addressing this Issue: